Date: January 29th 2019
Venue: O2 Apollo, Manchester
Support: Thy Art Is Murder / Killswitch Engage
In recent years, some have claimed that metalcore is dead, or at least facing the brink of extinction. Has it dwindled a little in recent years? Sure, but when you have bands like Parkway Drive leading the charge, questioning the genre’s sustainability in 2019 is beyond moot.
After dropping their sixth studio album ‘Reverence’ in May of last year, the Australian powerhouse not only maintained their stranglehold of metalcore at the foundation, but through a tale of grief and mourning set their sights and sounds high, and with the first date of their UK tour in Manchester, they’re ready to showcase that.
Kicking things off are Thy Art Is Murder , the band that’s easily the heaviest and most furious on the bill. Straight away the Aussie outfit have no hesitation in letting everyone know they’re pissed off and submerge the room straight into a destructive barrage, starting off with ‘Dear Desolation’.
These are easily the biggest rooms that the five-piece have toured over in the UK, and they seem perfectly at home. Frontman CJ McMahon sounds like a demon you couldn’t even conjure in your nightmares on the likes of ‘Holy War’, during which he’s taken into the middle of a mosh pit atop the shoulders of a fan known only as “pit troll” thanks to his shirt bearing the name, and hearing a huge wave of people roar back “You will see the true face of panic” during ‘Reign Of Darkness’ is simply impressive.
Next up are metalcore godfathers Killswitch Engage , who have been at this game the longest out of this touring line-up, and even before the first lyrics of the set are uttered, vocalist Jesse Leach has bounded his way from the stage to the barrier, singing face-to-face with the die-hard fans in the front row.
The amount of staple hits in their arsenal nowadays is formidable for any of their fellow peers, and they dish out a bunch of them tonight like it’s nothing. ‘The End Of Heartache’ rears its head early on, complete with its soaring yet sizzling chorus, ‘Rose Of Sharyn’ hasn’t lost an ounce of its potency, Leach also has a go of the sitting-on-the-shoulders-of-pit-troll ride during ‘My Last Serenade’ and ‘A Bid Farewell’, and ‘My Curse’ still holds its claim as one of the best metalcore songs ever crafted 12 years on.
The room is almost in complete darkness whilst a remixed version of ‘Absolute Power’ plays over the PA speakers, and from one side of the room a path emerges before a group of cloaked and almost monk-like figures walk beside the band and gradually make their way to the barrier, each one carrying a flamed lantern in hand. When they finally make their way to the front, Parkway Drive  take to the stage.
They slowly guide us into the set with ‘Wishing Wells’, first with one sole spotlight focused on frontman Winston McCall as he croons us into the song, all before roaring “Until I’m done”, and with it the whole band enters and thrusts us into the thick of the explosive and exhilarating hour and a half to follow.
Of course, on a run promoting their latest effort ‘Reverence’, it’s material from this record that makes up most of the set, and it’s clear that these songs were built and primed for the live environment. ‘Prey’ sounds colossal with its born-to-be-played-in-a-stadium chorus, ‘Chronos’ could easily fit onto the soundtrack of a major action film, ‘Cemetery Bloom’ is almost spine-tingling, and how can you not bang your head along to the insatiable groove of ‘The Void’?
The production value has stepped up several levels too. There are explosions and pyrotechnics aplenty that have become an integral part of the set. Sparks shower and drench the stage during the aforementioned ‘The Void’, and if it wasn’t for McCall‘s tyrant-like vocal abilities and Ben “Gaz” Gordon‘s animalistic drum work, the trigger happy flamethrower efforts during ‘Dedication’ would easily be the most formidable presence onstage this evening.
Ensuring that the visual wow factor doesn’t steal the focus, Parkway Drive make it clear that the emotive elements of the latest record are threaded into the core of the set. A group of live violinists and a cellist really flesh out the otherwise riff-tastic ‘Shadow Boxing’ and anthemic ‘Wild Eyes’, and the cellist returns later beside McCall for the vulnerable ‘The Colour Of Leaving’, both centre stage with nothing more than a sombre and frail light, otherwise surrounded by darkness.
The Australians aren’t ones to bow out without a final one-two punch, though. McCall returns to the stage, topless and with a bottle stuffed with a rag in hand. He lights it like a molotov cocktail, chucks it behind him where a logo has emerged, and the stage is almost completely engulfed and swallowed by a blaze of flames that could almost give Rammstein a run for their money. Seriously, by the end of ‘Crushed’ and ‘Bottom Feeder’, you’d be forgiven for thinking these boys are borderline pyromaniacs.
‘Reverence’ hinted at a band ready for the next level, and ready to fill stages and venues twice the size of the ones before it. To that end, Parkway Drive have stepped up to the plate completely, and if you’re one of those people who’ve questioned metalcore’s longevity, they’re here to make you unequivocally eat your words.